A cartographic history

Both maps are the same edition of the same series - 1951 1:25,000 series sheet 43/00, covering brownhills and surrounding area. In other editions, this was marked sheet SK00, the nomenclature of this scale was confused for some years. This is the one I featured an excerpt from a couple of weeks ago. Download a version of this in .PDF format below, this is the 'coal' version.

In my recent post ‘Other people’s maps’, I featured an excerpt from a secondhand 1951 issue 1:25,000 scale map I’d acquired from a map dealer. The map  – with Brownhills at its heart – carried some rather unusual hand written markings which fascinate me, and the small excerpt I featured certainly seemed to engage the readers. I promised to get the map scanned in full, as well as a second one obtained with it. Both sheets are identical, but the drafting on them is different. The markings still haunt, and I’ve included the whole sheet as best I can in each scan, as there are notes and scribbles in the margins which are clearly significant. Please put your thinking caps on, download a copy and peruse at your leisure. I’d love to know what was going on.

Exactly the same map as above, clearly sketched on by the same hand. Less aged, though, but exhibiting a cigarette burn upper left. This one has three circles shaded in the centre that seem to indicate something, but the centres of them make no sense; there's a ruled line indicating '6.8 miles to P.O. Tower' in pencil along with a couple of others that terminate on what would have been Bailey House in Brownhills. Download a copy below - this is the 'circles' version.

Both maps are very intriguing, but of course, the mapping is gorgeous and worth looking at in itself; however, the markings belie a history, and I’d love some clue as to what that was. The more you study them, the more you spot. The circles version is particularly interesting, as it’s markings seem obscure. I’m intrigued as to why anyone would measure the line of sight distance from Bailey house, the demolished Brownhills tower block, to the Post Office Tower in Pye Green, Cannock. Is there perhaps a radio amateur thing going on here? Maybe the circles indicate range of some sort? Notice also on that map the peculiar note of ‘Blake St.’ through Chasewater and the marking in red of the boundary of what would become the country park there. Oddly prophetic.

The coal version also has lists of notes in the margins, and curious numbers around Brownhills Common. There’s a key to the shaded relief noted by Andy Dennis, too. I can’t make out the note at the top about the Redmoor.

Please, if you have any ideas – or can expand on the wonderful detective work already undertaken by Andy Dennis and Mark T – please do. A previous owner of these maps was doing something interesting. I’m nosey enough to want to know just what…

The maps are in .PDF format, for which you’ll need Adobe Reader or similar – but most folks have that installed already. I recommend right-clicking the links below and selecting ‘Save as…’ to save the file to your computer. All of them will take a while to download on slow connections, so please be patient. The high quality one is 300 DPI resolution and should print fine up to A3/original size. The basic is 200 DPI and should print OK on A$, but is best for on-screen perusal.

OS sheet 43-00 circles – high quality download 8.8MB 

OS sheet 43-00 circles – basic quality download 4MB

OS sheet 43-00 coal – high quality download 8.5MB

OS sheet 43-00 coal – basic quality download 3.9MB

(my thanks to the kind runner who did the scanning legwork for me, thus enabling this post. You know who you are, you’re a star.)

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11 Responses to A cartographic history

  1. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    I wonder, Waine House had radio-phone relays on it at one time…a better location than Bailey House in the event? The other map,with the circle centred in the parade…what is the range of the local taxi radios. I think they have to have a range-milited licence from the authority. A possibility..?
    What is the etching around Chasetown? Where the coal mine took its coal at one time there?
    Good fun!

  2. David Evans says:

    HI Bob

    thats “range-limited”, in more sober moments, I believe

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Thanks again, Bob. I can’t make anything obvious from these. Does anyone recall the building marked with the red cross just north of Holland Park or its neighbour? Would this offer any clues? The other cross indicates the Memo. Did they transmit?

  4. Chris Hill says:

    Many thanks for the maps Bob

  5. Jim says:

    Bob have you noticed the special attention paid to the electricity pylons on this map

    The writing in the border of the map refers to the pylons near Leacroft / Heath Hayes

    One pylon west of Chasewater that isn’t drawn on the original 1951 map has been penciled in I’ve looked at the old maps and the pylon at Chasewater appears on the 1962 map but it’s not marked on the 1955 map

    The red circle is centered on the memorial hall and the purple circle is centered on the Cricket pitch at Holland Park whoever owned this map I guess was interested in calculating something to do with distances could it have been timing pigeon races or something like that?

  6. Pablo Oplywiss says:

    The red boundary around Chasewater is almost identical to the new West Midlands metropolian county boundary, which supercedes this map by over 20 years – unless the markings continued to be added over such a time. As a kid in the 80’s I was fascinated by my best pal’s dad’s A to Z from the 50’s which he’d drew in motorways & other new roads with unnerving accuracy!

    There’s also the comments in pencil in the top left hand margin – “obscured by houses” & “obscured by…” something I can’t make out.

    On the mining map there’s another pencil scribble across the top – maybe he’s mispelt Redmoor meaning Redmore?

  7. Andy Dennis says:

    Chasewater was never entirely within the borough of Walsall (no bad thing) or (therefore) West Midlands County. The most recent boundary changes placed all of Chasewater in Lichfield, that is outside what used to be the WMC, which, other than as a statistical convenience, was abolished years ago (1994?) and good riddance!

    In the margin I read “obscured by poplars”, but I haven’t been anywhere to see where they are – if they are still standing. Was there a row of them where the motorway crosses Hednesford Road?

    Bob’s sight line theory seems right, especially given the reference to the PO Tower [on Cannock Chase]. The circles are presumably something to do with assessing interference to signals between there and Brownhills flats.

  8. antony brindley says:

    Hi, Bob.
    Your feature on the map of chase water which i have just read 1-12-11.
    I have had a copy of this map in my poccesion 48 years and have always found it interesting

  9. stymaster says:

    With line of sight, I’d guess at microwave, or other high-frequency repeaters. Staffs emergency services maybe?

  10. Angela says:

    I read “obscured by poplars” too…what a wonderfully interesting map!

  11. Pingback: The old roads | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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